The Bible’s First Inning

Genesis 1 is the story of God’s homeruns.  Every time God is up to bat, He creates ex nihlo (out of nothing), and what He creates is very good.

The crowd is almost too shocked to keep cheering.  Surely there must be a catch somewhere.  Surely there is something that God cannot do.  Don’t all stories have a problem?  What problem will God have to overcome?

And yet, there is nothing in Genesis 1 that would bring us to conclude God has any sort of problem at all, or that He needs any sort of problem at all.  His creative processes are so marvelous that they need no mistake to make them exciting.  In fact, any such error from God would ruin His perfect inning, prohibiting the perfect creation that we find our hearts so longing for.

Will God actually succeed?  Will He be able to smash homeruns on every single pitch?

The unquestionable answer Genesis 1 leaves us with is yes.  Yes, God will get homeruns every single time.  Usually, we long for variety in a game, but we find ourselves here (as our hearts fall in love with a God who acknowledges us on His first time up to bat–waves to us even!), filling with deeper and deeper joy each time the ball flies out of the stadium.  There is something deeply personal about God’s homeruns, and we intuitively know He is doing this for us.

We have the astonishing inkling, so uncanny we’re almost sure it can’t be true, that we are actually going to find ourselves stepping up to the mound very soon.  But why?  Why would God share His field with us?  As Genesis 1 unfolds, He proves time and time again that He can do everything well–alone.  Why would He want us?

Could it be that God delights in giving away adventure, creativity, and the choice and power to love . . . as free gifts . . . because His very nature is to be good?

He has hit the biggest homerun of the inning.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! (Genesis 1:31, NLT)

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Economics

My brain hurts when I think about the economics class I took some 9 years ago or so in college.

I was the only person in the class who got an A on the first test, and that is truly pretty shameful, because it shows how far you can sometimes go with recitation.

The teacher retaught the test, and I didn’t have to come to class for a week.  That made me happy.  Later, she told everyone she would drop the lowest test.  When I had scored good grades on my tests, I decided not to study for one of the tests, I think maybe the last test before we took our comprehensive exam.  I wondered how much I really knew in Economics.  I got a D.  I was shocked.

I walked out of Economics class with an A.  I had excelled on the memorization part of the test.  I had basically memorized all the important passages of the textbook.  I had also memorized formulas, most of which I had squatty-dink idea of how to use.  I had figured out that the majority of the test was memorization, and on the application question at the end, I could write the formula, be unable to solve the problem, and still get a high B or low A.  For extra credit, I attended a seminar (I have no idea what the topic was) at a university (or something somewhere).  That’s how meaningful the information was to me.

I came out of the class with an A.  And that looked good on paper.  People might have even thought I could have become a math major.  But in reality, I hated economics.  I had hated memorizing things I didn’t understand to try to patch in answers on a test.  And I had resented even attempting to understand formulas that made my brain hurt.  I never wanted to take another economics class my whole life, and, fortunately, I didn’t have to.

You know, sadly enough, I think some people have viewed Bible study in this way.  They were pressured to memorize Scripture verses as a kid, or flip to a book of the Bible the fastest, or maybe they even had Bible classes where they took tests and received grades on what they knew.  They might have gotten an A, but they never want to study the Bible again.

I think we have to be really careful about how we present the Bible to people, even children.  Memorizing verses is a treasure, but only to those who love Christ.  Otherwise, it feels like a penalty.

I don’t think children should ever be forced to memorize Scripture.  Rather, parents should practice memorizing Scripture themselves, and hope their children want to follow.

Sometimes the well-intentioned programs we have to motivate children to sharpen their Bible knowledge . . . can actually dull that knowledge.  Imagine, for example, a scenario in which a parent is irritated and hostile with a child on a drive down to a Bible drill program, and then sits smiling alongside other parents while the child participates.  This kind of “double standard” (a corrupted standard) can lead children to believe the Bible is a fake activity people engage in to appear important.

And there’s another deep danger.  A child who enjoys contests and quizzes may begin to look at the Bible as wonderful book . . . to read superficially and get treats from.  On the surface, this child might seem to be dedicated to God’s Word . . . but in reality, (s)he may be nothing more than a conditioned pleaser.  Most of us have probably seen a child “perform” with something (s)he has no practical application with.  For example, I could probably teach a three year old to say “27 x 3 = 81”.  But that doesn’t mean the child can multiply.  It doesn’t even mean the child knows what “27” is.

Am I saying we shouldn’t give the Word of God to children?  My goodness, I am not saying that!  Children need all sorts of opportunities to explore and engage with God’s Word.  But there are some real dangers to getting into punishments for a child who doesn’t want to read the Bible or rewards for a child who does.

All believers need to understand that becoming a Christian isn’t something that can be memorized or recited or is done as a daily chore.  Becoming a Christian means following Jesus forever.  It is an authentic commitment.  It isn’t for a sticker chart or so you don’t lose your allowance.  Following Christ is impossibly hard without loving Christ.  Impossibly hard.  It won’t be done.

What we need to do is plant in our children’s hearts our love for reading, reflecting, discussing, and acting on God’s Word.  We need to show what we want to see.

But even more than that, we need to convey to children that the love of Christ is the motivation for serving Him.  Serving Christ isn’t a have-to. Christ makes that very clear.  Every one of us must decide whether we want to spend eternity with Him or not.

As much as we want to choose for children . . . we can’t.  What we can do is show them through our lives why the love of Christ causes us to daily choose to love Him back forever and ever.

All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (1 John 4:15-17, NLT)

How do I read the Bible?

I stopped at Starbucks this week and tried their new “cake bites”.  It’s this small bite of cake on a stick.  This is probably a great tool for dieting and also the appropriate amount of sugar a human being should actually consume for dessert, and the Rocky Road cake bite is delicious . . .  but looking at the Bible as a ‘dessert bite’ is not a good way to view the Word of God.

Sometimes, though, I treat the Bible like a mini-dessert: I read a little dab of verses, think nice thoughts about them, and move on.

While every bit of the Word of God is inspired, the danger of reading verses here and there is that we miss the big picture of the story.  The Bible wasn’t originally written into verses, but letters and books.

Let’s think about this for a second.  If someone wrote you a letter, would you randomly pick one sentence out to read?  Probably not.

If you were reading one of your favorite book series, would you flip to a random page, read a paragraph, and feel satisfied?  Not likely.

The Bible isn’t like dessert.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35, NIV)

A lot of times, I think the church has been guilty of using the Bible like a bite of cake on a stick . . . but the Bible is our meal, our life . . . not a fulfillment for our sweet tooth or an afterthought to our day.

When God was freeing the Israelites from a life of slavery in Egypt to a glorious escape in the land of Canaan, they had to first go through the desert.  They went through the desert a long time.  We all know it’s tough to find food in a desert, and the Israelites became very, very hungry.  Rather than pray to God for food, they copped an attitude and blamed God for bringing them into such a miserable place.  (See Exodus 16)

Even so, God was willing to feed them.  He gave them manna, a bread that nutritionally exceeded any bread we have today.  With this bread, they needed nothing else to be full or healthy . . . but they got tired of the bread.  They wanted something different.

A real irony is that, once they got to the rich land of Canaan, which would grow huge crops and was lavish with livestock that gave milk and even had plenty of bee hives with sweet honey . . . they looked back on the manna with great devotion and affection!

Just listen to the conversation their descendants have with Jesus, some 1200 or 1400 years later:

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.  But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise [that person] up at the last day.”

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:28-41, NIV)

Now the manna was super special to them . . . and Christ wasn’t!  The great tragedy was that they missed out on the real manna just as much as their ancestors did, because they wanted something different.  A thousand years before, when God was leading them into a land where they could be free, the manna wasn’t ‘enough’ for them.  And here, at the birth of Christ, the Manna still wasn’t ‘enough’ for them.

Why?

I think because, in a way, they were looking for ‘cake bites’.  They wanted God to give them something sweet and easy to swallow . . . Christ’s gruesome crucifixion was neither.  They wanted a relationship with God based on the idea they were already ‘filled’ and all they needed was a nice dessert . . . they didn’t see they were filled with garbage and dying of soul starvation and that the last thing in the world they needed was a bit of nutritionally-deprived sweetness to give their soul a ‘sugar high’ and crash it even worse than before.  (See the story of the person who tried to take care of his problem with a bit of nicety, Matthew 12:43-45.)

 

Suggestions for reading the Bible like the main course:

  • Listen to CD’s of the Bible in your car.  There are many different translations of the Bible available on CD.
  • Read, or listen to, a chronological Bible.  The NLT One-Year Chronological Bible is my study Bible for this year.  Have I gotten behind on my readings?  Yes.  Rather than focus on whether you will finish in a year or not, focus on reading every day, even if you don’t get all the daily reading done.
  • There are all sorts of free Bible version online.  Biblegateway.com is a resource I use a lot for listening to the Bible (http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/audio/) and looking up Bible passages.  Or, http://bible.cc/ is great for reading a verse in several different translations at the same time.  A cool feature is that the right column shows verses that are related to the verse you’re studying.
  • Carry a Bible in your car, purse, or briefcase.  You will notice there are a lot of ‘wait times’ you can be reading.  If you have an iphone, there is a free Bible app that allows you to read the Bible in many different translations wherever you are.
  • Read or listen to different books of the Bible at the same time.  For example, in your car you may be listening to Ephesians, and in your study Bible you may be reading Exodus, and while waiting at a doctor’s appointment you may read the gospel of John.  You may also want to research verses about a topic (i.e., suffering, temptation, belief) on the internet.  The beauty of the Bible is all the Scriptures unify and connect.

“All humanity is grass,
and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. 

The grass withers, the flowers fade
when the breath of the LORD blows on them;
indeed, the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.”(Isaiah 40:6b-8, HCSB)

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm  Comments Off on How do I read the Bible?  
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Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Before I think about possible answers for this question, I have to ask myself first,

Do this question apply to me?

That is, am I a “good person”?

Have I never told a story with a spin on it so I would look better?  Have I never blamed someone for something that was my fault?  Have I never said or done something that I wish I could take back?  (I might think, But I can still be good, even if I make mistakes “sometimes”, but there is no such middle ground.  The Bible makes says it best.  Romans is a great book to start with for questions of perfection.)

So I am not a good person and the question doesn’t apply to me after all.

Here’s the problem with accusations against God.  He is always good.  And I have just determined that I am not.  Yet somehow, someway, I plan to judge God for letting bad things happen to me.

I find this especially strange.  I have had times where I have caused bad things to happen by a deliberate bad choice.  And yet the second that something bad happens that I didn’t cause—rage!

For example, I have been known in my life to be very . . . unorganized.  I have caused others great inconvenience by my arriving late (or forgetting) events.  Yet I remember one time arriving at a carpool to a theme park about ten minutes late.  I was very apologetic and hoped to get grace.  But then, once we got to the theme park, we had to wait at the entrance for about twenty or thirty minutes for another family, and I was irked and couldn’t believe how rude and incredibly inconsiderate they were.

Can you believe it?  Can I even believe it, and I’m the one who did it!

Time and time again, I have done something really stupid, hoped to be forgiven for it, and then gotten peeved and grudgeful when somebody else does the same thing (usually far less severely than I did).

In Eden, God gave us two choices: live under His protection or strike out for ourselves.  We chose B.  We left God’s shelter.

It can’t say, “Well, that was Adam and Eve, not me.”  I have done bad.  I have actively participated in Adam and Eve’s decision to leave the nest of God.

So the question I was asking needs a one-word change:

“Why do bad things happen to bad people?”

Um.  That sounds a little different, doesn’t it?

(But does that mean everything that happens to us is punishment?  The book of Job tells us otherwise.)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. (Romans 8:28 NCV)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Stuff”

In Veggie Tales: Madame Blueberry, the lyricists wrote probably the funniest songs about materialism I’ve ever heard.  In the episode Madame Blueberry, a blueberry who’s always wishing for better stuff meets representatives from the new “Stuff Mart” that has just moved in her town.

They introduce themselves with a rap song about the stuff they sell, and I hope you get to hear the hysterically funny song if you never have.  The key lines in the song reach far past a world of vegetables:

“Happiness waits at the Stuff Mart!  All you need is lots . . . more . . . stuff![1]”

What becomes of this singing advertisement?  Well, Madame Blueberry goes off with the sales rep and buys stuff until her house gets so stuffed it falls off the tree and lands in the ocean.  Bye, bye stuff.

There are a lot of five-year-olds who need to learn the lesson that stuff isn’t the answer to happiness.  And there are a lot of grown-ups, too.  I know I’ve been convicted by how much I’ve spent on myself and how little I’ve spent on compassion and evangelism.

The best lesson in the episode doesn’t come from the fruit, however.  It comes from a vegetable.  🙂

A little asparagus and his dad go to the very same “Stuff Mart” as Madame Blueberry.  The asparagus wants a train he sees, but his father tells him he can only afford a ball.  The asparagus answers, “A ball would be nice” and launches into a simple song about thankfulness that reminds all of us of where our hearts should be.  The chorus goes:

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!

I’m glad for what I have and that’s an easy way to start!

For a God who really cares

And He listens to our prayers

That’s why I say thanks every day[1].

If we believe in Christ, then we really believe in a God who cares.  That is the foundation of any joy we could possibly have!  says:

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17, NIV)

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” (2 Corinthians 9:7, NLT)

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[1] Veggie Tales: Madame Blueberry: A Lesson in Thankfulness published by Big Idea Productions.

Photograph Peter Dutton, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/joeshlabotnik/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Why does God expect perfection? Part 2

Why Does God Expect Perfection?  Part Two

Now that we’ve established that everyone has a standard of perfection, the question has changed from, “Why does God expect perfection?” to, “Why does God expect the standard of perfection He does?”  The problem, then, has changed from disliking that God has a standard to disliking God’s specific standard.

There are two major problems people have with God’s standard:

  1. Why do we have to be 100% perfect to get into Heaven?

Examples of complaints:

  • “I think God is mean.”
  • “I don’t think God can’t seriously expect people to be perfect in this world we live in!”
  • “Mistakes are errors or miscalculations, not sin.”
  • “Mistakes are valuable, because we learn from them.  If they’ve valuable, they must be good.”
  • “I believe everybody makes mistakes.”
  • “I think God makes mistakes.”

2. What if I don’t like what God considers perfect?

Examples of complaints:

  • “I think God is a bully.  I wouldn’t want to follow Him.”
  • “I think God is too harsh.”
  • “I think God is unfair.”
  • “I think God is inconsistent.”

We will take a look at both of these dilemmas in future blogs.

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 11:56 am  Comments (1)  
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What If I Don’t Like God’s Values

If I don’t like the idea that I have been created by and serve a holy God, I won’t like His values, and if I don’t like His values you won’t like God.  I would be in a cycle that only ends in Hell.

If I look first at my values, and then we look to God and expect the same values from Him, I will find myself on a quest towards trying to defame of God.

Why?

I can think of it this way.  Suppose I am taking a trigonometry class.  Let’s seriously hope not (yikes!), but suppose I am.  If I go into the class thinking I am the unmatched authority on trigonometry because I can draw a triangle somewhat nicely, I am in for a very frustrating experience.  What’s more, I will probably walk out of the class knowing as little as I did when I came in because I elevated myself to a position of “professor” when I should have labeled myself “student”.

I am your servant. Help me understand so that I may come to know your written instructions. (Psalm 119:125, GW)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Is God mean?

Mean by whose standard?

If I say by my standards, or public standards, or popular standards, I am talking about human standards that change with public opinion and culture, and vary from person to person.  So in order for my complaint to work, I must set up my standard as being higher or better than God’s.  I can do this quite simply, if I can create Him. 

Say what?

I can set up my standards as better than God’s if I can move my position from the created to the Creator.  In other words, not only must I be able to create the entire universe by yourself (and no copycatting, I must remember, because that wouldn’t be original creation), but I also must be able to reverse the process of God creating me and I must create God.  Then my standard can be higher.

If I think this is unfair or ridiculous, consider what I would have to do to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the U.S.  If the Supreme Court absolutely refuses to change its mind about a decision–compare this to God with His decision about what perfection is–the only way I could overturn the decision would be to become a higher authority.  That is, I would have to become more powerful, in some way or another, than the Supreme Court.

Even though I can’t become a higher authority than God, I can still have hope–and confidence–that I won’t be treated unfairly.  Not because I can conform God to my standard, but because God is, by His very nature, fair.  I can discover that nature by reading God’s Word.  In our culture there’s a lot of name-calling and slandering going on about God, but every ill word is proven wrong by an examination of the Bible, and most especially by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ written in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

God is no bully; He is not unfair.  He is not a perverse God, but rather a purifying God.  He proves His mercy by sending His Son down to us, not to shred us, but to save us.  Nowhere in the Old or New Testament is  God “mean” or “unfair”.  From the very beginning, He has been just and very merciful.  I can try to convince you with my own words, but the Truth is the Word of God can speak perfectly on God’s behalf in that matter without any help from me.

I will proclaim the name of the LORD; how glorious is our God!  He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair.  He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! (Deuteronomy 32:3-4, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Why do I have to be 100% perfect to get into Heaven?

Is there a ‘Heaven exam’?  If so, why isn’t 70% a passing grade?  70% lets you move on in an algebra or philosophy class.  But God expects us to get an A+.   Why an A+? Why not a C-?

I’ve come to realize that the question of why we must have perfection to be with God is only confusing to imperfect people (like me).

Even if I take educational grading standards as ‘the way to determine qualification into Heaven’, the question becomes, whose educational standards standards?  Standards vary widely and are even subject to change.  For example, in some educational settings, you can be promoted with a 60%.   In some education fields, you can’t stay in the program unless you make at least an 80%.  For still other programs, you can’t even apply or be considered if you make less than a 90% or even a 95%.

Sometimes the acceptable percentage depends on other classmates.  For example, in one class, the highest grade may be an 80%, so an 80% becomes a 100% and a 60% becomes an 80%.  Or, in a competitive program, a 97% might knock you out of qualifying because someone else got a 99%.  On a spelling bee, you can miss words so long as all the contestants miss their words, too.

But is this about a standard of perfection or a ranking system?

In our culture we see shades, degrees, and combinations of right and wrong, rather than what is really there:

right

and

wrong.

There’s no surprise, then, that our culture (myself included before God opened my eyes) has difficulty understanding the chasm between right and wrong, Heaven and Hell.

We have difficulty distinguishing right and wrong in ‘circumstantial’ and ‘ambiguous’ (and especially hypothetical) situations.  Philosophy works hard to create extremely complex and convoluted scenarios in which right and wrong are not easily seen, when, truly, if you lived out those scenarios and you were perfect, you would know exactly what to do.  It is the very reason that we are not perfect that we have so much trouble sometimes telling right from wrong!

It’s easier in real-life examples to tell right from wrong, but easier doesn’t mean easy.  Still, even with all our confusion and mess, we still at least sometimes exalt people who give their lives to helping the poor, protecting the weak, and caring for the sick and we still at least sometimes condemn people who murder, abuse power, and mistreat the defenseless.

The more extreme the example, the more we tend to agree on right and wrong.  For example, while not everyone might agree that downloading music illegally is wrong, almost everyone would agree that killing a ten-year-old child is wrong[1].

While we may leave some or even most things to wallow in ‘moral ambiguity’, we don’t leave the things that really matter to us to such ‘interpretive’ paths.  When something matters to me personally, I seem to suddenly know just exactly what is right and wrong!

When we sin, we create a debt that is incurable unless cured by perfection, our original state as created beings.

The book of Romans warns us that we cannot get 100% on our own.  It also gives us promise that Christ has come and has fulfilled the Law for those who believe in Him.

There is no such thing as 40% perfect and you are 65% perfect.  There is either perfect or not perfect: 100% or 0%.

But why do we often accept less than 100%?  The reason why less than 100% is acceptable in programs is 1) we are imperfect and we know it and 2) the information is hopefully not life-or-death.

If I get a 70% on a philosophy test, the school counselor probably isn’t going to tell me I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life in failure.

But what if I’m studying to be a doctor and I have a test on only essential questions that I must know to perform a surgery correctly?  Would the people I’m going to one day practice on be all right if I got 91%?  Or even 99%?

There’s going to be no attitude of, “Try, try again.”

My sin drops me from 100% to 0%, on my ‘life exam’, because it destroys my relationship with God and makes it impossible for me to do good, something like if I cut off my arms and then tried to wiggle my fingers.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”  Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”   The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”  Christ redeemed us from that curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:10-14, NIV)

Jesus Christ becomes our 100% when we trust Him.

So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. (Romans 8:1, NCV)

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[1] I put an age on the child in this example because not everyone agrees that it is wrong if it was a ten-week-old child developing inside the womb.

Photo by Amboo Who?, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/amboo213/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Why does God expect perfection? Part 1

This goes something like, “God, I don’t expect the people around me to be perfect (and, may I say, how generous I am in that, because some of them are real lousy).  Why do You expect me to be perfect?” or, more simply, “Why do You expect perfection when we’re clearly in a world that doesn’t have it?”

Before we look at this question, though, I want us to look at the assumption I’m holding with this question: I do not expect perfection from those around us, and therefore God should not expect perfection from us.

Here’s one problem (though not the biggest[1]): I do expect perfection.  Just to a different standard.

But wait a minute.  How can I expect perfection to a different standard?  Isn’t perfection is always 100%?

I’m not talking about objective–that is, a perfect being’s–standard of perfection.  I’m talking about subjective–that is, an imperfect being’ (my)–standard of perfection.

My perfection is subjective, capricious, and usually somewhat secretive.  But all people, whether they believe in the Christian God or another god or even if they don’t believe in any god, have a standard of perfection.  It’s impossible not to.

Everyone has things they will accept and they will not accept, and if you fail to meet that standard of perfection, you (at the very least) fall out of that person’s favor.

Fallen human beings all have different standards, but we always have standards.  I’ve tried to pick a few that just about everybody has:

  • People should not call me derogatory names.
  • The waiter or waitress serving me should not spit in my food.
  • My friends should not punch or kick me.
  • My parents should not boss me around after I have grown up.
  • My children should not get drunk when they are preteens.
  • People should not drive slower than the speed limit and then speed up when I try to pass them.
  • People who take care of my children should not beat them up.
  • People should not scratch unpleasant words into my car.
  • When I am in the nearly eternal line at a department store on Black Friday holding a five-pound Blu-Ray system for five hours, a total stranger on a cell phone with a cart full of goods should not butt in front of me.

Even the most psychotic egomaniac has a standard of perfection (e.g., You should let me butt in front of you in the five-hour line).  Everybody has standards of some kind, even if they are the opposite standards of other people (e.g., I should be allowed to murder you–the serial killer’s viewpoint.)

Before I examine God’s standard of perfection, I need to get one thing straight: we all have standards of perfection.  Some of us are just sneaky about not admitting it.

They [those who don’t have God’s law] demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. (Romans 2:15, NLT)

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Follow-up: Why do I have to be 100% perfect to get to Heaven?

[1] The biggest problem is that tiny little speck-of-dust me should not be challenging Almighty God.  Reading any part of the Bible, I see how God is boss, and I am absolutely, positively not.  And that is a very good fact.

Photograph by Nic McPhee, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/nicmcphee/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

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Published in: on January 29, 2011 at 9:47 am  Comments (1)  
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